Dani Alves found guilty of rape and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison

Former FC Barcelona footballer will appeal conviction for sexually assaulting woman in Barcelona nightclub

Footballer Dani Alves, pictured ahead of his rape trial in Barcelona
Footballer Dani Alves, pictured ahead of his rape trial in Barcelona / Jordi Borràs
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 22, 2024 10:14 AM

February 23, 2024 01:08 PM

Former FC Barcelona footballer Dani Alves has been found guilty of rape by Barcelona Court and sentenced to four and a half years in prison.  

Alves was convicted of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman in the early hours of the morning on December 31, 2022 in the bathroom of a VIP area at the Sutton nightclub in the Catalan capital. 

The court also ruled that Alves will face, in addition to his prison sentence, five years of supervised release, and ordered the Brazilian to pay €150,000 in compensation. 

The victim's lawyers had requested the maximum 12-year sentence, while public prosecutors had requested nine years. 

Alves will appeal the ruling, his lawyers said.

The former footballer has been in preventive detention since January 2023 and has changed his lawyer twice, having been refused bail on several occasions. 

The ex-Barça player changed his version of events several times, initially denying that he knew the woman, then saying that it was her who had sexually abused him, later stating that the sexual relations were consensual, and finally adding that he acted under the influence of alcohol. 

The woman's version was consistent and much of it was corroborated by witnesses and other evidence.  

Victim's lawyers satisfied but say damage not repaired 

Leaving Barcelona Court after hearing the verdict, the victim's lawyer, David Sáenz, said they were satisfied because the sentence recognizes "the victim's truth and suffering." 


He pointed out, however, that "obviously" the damage done has not been repaired and that they want to study the ruling in depth, to see if the sentence imposed can be compared to "the seriousness" of the events. 

He did not say whether they will file an appeal or not, given that they asked for a twelve-year sentence. 

Alves to appeal 

Dani Alves will appeal the sentence, his lawyer, Inés Guardiola, told media outside Barcelona Court following the verdict. 


"I continue to believe and defend the innocence of Mr. Alves," she said, adding that she still had to study the sentence in depth. 

"It is a long sentence. We will appeal, and defend his innocence until the end," Guardiola said. 

She confirmed that Alves was aware of the verdict, and that she would visit him in prison on Thursday afternoon to explain the court's decision in full. 


The court's decision came two weeks on from Alves' three-day trial, which took place from February 6 to 8. 

On the first day, the victim testified behind closed doors, confirming what she had said during the investigation, that Alves invited her and two friends to the VIP area on the night of December 30, 2022. 

After dancing and flirting with them, Alves took the woman with him through a door, which she said she thought was a space to smoke. Once inside, she was surprised to find herself in a small bathroom and wanted to leave, but Alves forced her to have sex with him against her will. 

The woman's version was corroborated by several security cameras, witnesses, her fingerprints on the toilet, Alves' DNA on her clothing and vagina, and injuries that are consistent with her story. 

A friend of the victim said that after the assault the woman was "heartbroken like never before," and said repeatedly "it hurt me a lot, it hurt me a lot." 

On day two of the trial, Joana Sanz, Dani Alves' wife, told the court that her husband arrived home "very drunk" at 4am on December 31, 2022 "reeking of alcohol."  

He collided with a wardrobe and a table before he collapsed on the bed, Sanz said. 

Defense lawyers subsequently asked for Alves to be acquitted or, alternatively, a one-year prison sentence, stressing alcohol as an extenuating factor. 

Alves testified on the third and final day of the trial, saying that the relations he had with the woman were consensual at all times and that they were both "enjoying themselves."  

"I'm not violent," Alves told the court, adding that at no point did the woman ask him "to stop or to leave." 

Reputation destroyed 

The verdict destroys Alves' reputation, one of the world's most decorated footballers. For Barça alone he won 23 major titles between 2008 and 2016, including six league titles and three Champions League trophies. He returned to the Catalan club for the 2021–2022 season.

Alves is Brazil's third most-capped player of all time.